Pieces People Ask For/Because
"Now, John," the district teacher says,
With frown that scarce can hide
The dimpling smiles around her mouth
Where Cupid's hosts abide;
"What have you done to Mary Ann,
That she is crying so?
Don't say 'twas nothing,—don't, I say,
For, John, that can't be so.
"For Mary Ann would never cry
At nothing, I am sure;
And if you've wounded justice, John,
You know the only cure
Is punishment. So come, stand up;
Transgressions must abide
The pain attendant on the scheme
That makes it justified."
So John steps forth, with sunburnt face
And hair all in a tumble,
His laughing eyes a contrast to
His drooping mouth so humble.
"Now, Mary, you must tell me all,—
I see that John will not,—
And if he's been unkind or rude
I'll whip him on the spot."
"We—we were playin' p-prisoners' base,
An' h-he is s-such a t-tease,
An' w-when I w-wasn't l-lookin', ma'am,
H-he kissed me—if you please!"
Upon the teacher's face the smiles
Have triumphed o'er the frown,
A pleasant thought runs through her mind,
The stick comes harmless down.
But outraged law must be avenged:
Begone, ye smiles, begone!
Away, ye little dreams of love!
Come on, ye frowns, come on!
"I think I'll have to whip you, John:
Such conduct breaks the rule;
No boy, except a naughty one,
Would kiss a girl—at school."
Again the teacher's rod is raised,
A Nemesis she stands:
A premium were put on sin,
If punished by such hands!
As when the bee explores the rose
We see the petals tremble,
So trembled Mary's rosebud lips;
Her heart would not dissemble.
"I wouldn't whip him very hard,"—
The stick stops in its fall,
"It wasn't right to do it, but
It didn't hurt at all."
"What made you cry, then, Mary Ann?"
The school noise makes a pause,
And out upon the listening air
From Mary comes, "Because."